Healthy Living is About Eating “Real” Food. See Why!

Healthy foods
Food is fuel for the body. Each one of us puts unique demands on the body, to obtain the desired performance. Individual stress may be different but the basic functions and mechanics of the human body are very much the same. We all need the energy to breathe, walk and sleep. However, how well you can breath after running a mile or how your body feels in the morning after sleep, depends on – nutrients available to your body for recovery and re-building. Food energy is readily available, hence our expanding waistlines, but the nutrients we need for performance come from “real” food.

What is “REAL” Food?


Food is all around us, from chocolate bars in clothing stores to soda at gas stations. Take-out places and restaurants are often lined up for our picking. For most of us, grocery stores are a stone's throw away. So, with such easy access to food, do you ever wonder why we are so unhealthy? In reality, most of us always have something in our mouth or hand, be it a drink like coffee or vitamin water, to a snack like a donut or a wrap. If food is energy, then why are we so lethargic, while having easy access to it? The reason is that modern-day food is not “real” – nutrient-rich. Most of us are not even meeting the required nutrition needs, let alone attaining numbers closer to optimum nutrition.

Real food is natural as nature intended. Some processing is necessary in today’s times but completely recreating a food product to increase profits – has no benefit to your health. Real food includes fruits, vegetables, grains, meats that will spoil with time. A bread that can sit on the counter for weeks without spoiling will unlikely meet your nutritional needs. Our philosophy is, if it’s not good enough for bacteria to eat, then it isn’t a food source for humans.

Here are 20 reasons to eat real food.

Benefits of real foods

1. Loaded with important nutrients


Unprocessed animal and plant foods provide the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health.

For instance, 1 cup (220 grams) of red bell peppers, broccoli, or orange slices contains more than 100% of the RDI for vitamin C.

Eggs and liver are especially high in choline, a nutrient essential for proper brain function.

And a single Brazil nut provides all the selenium you need for an entire day.

In fact, most whole foods are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients.

2. Low in sugar


Some research suggests that eating sugary foods can increase your risk of obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease.

Generally speaking, real food is lower in sugar than many processed foods.

Even though fruit contains sugar, it's also high in water and fiber, making it much healthier than soda and processed foods.

3. Heart-healthy


Real food is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that support heart health, including magnesium and healthy fats.

Eating a diet rich in nutritious, unprocessed foods may also help reduce inflammation, which is considered one of the major drivers of heart disease.

4. Better for the environment


The world population is steadily growing, and with this growth comes an increased demand for food.

However, producing food for billions of people has an environmental toll.

This is partly due to the destruction of rainforests for agricultural land, increased fuel needs, pesticide use, greenhouse gases, and packaging that ends up in landfills.

Developing sustainable agriculture based on real food may help improve the health of the planet by reducing energy needs and decreasing the amount of non-biodegradable waste that humans produce.

5. High in fiber


Fiber provides many health benefits, including boosting digestive function, metabolic health, and feelings of fullness.

Foods like avocados, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and blackberries are particularly high in healthy fiber, alongside beans and legumes.

Consuming fiber through whole foods is much better than taking a supplement or eating processed food with added fiber.

6. Helps control blood sugar


According to the International Diabetes Federation, more than 400 million people have diabetes worldwide.

That number is expected to surpass 600 million within the next 25 years.

Eating a diet high in fibrous plants and unprocessed animal foods may help reduce blood sugar levels in people who have or are at risk for diabetes.

In one 12-week study, people with diabetes or prediabetes followed a paleolithic diet combining fresh meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and nuts. They experienced a 26% reduction in blood sugar levels.

7. Good for your skin


In addition to promoting better overall health, real food nourishes and helps protect your skin.

For instance, dark chocolate and avocados have been shown to protect skin against sun damage.

Studies suggest that eating more vegetables, fish, beans, and olive oil may help reduce wrinkling, loss of elasticity, and other age-related skin changes.

What's more, switching from a Western diet high in processed foods to one based on real food may help prevent or reduce acne.

8. Helps lower triglycerides


Blood triglyceride levels are strongly influenced by food intake.

Because triglycerides tend to go up when you eat sugar and refined carbs, it's best to minimize these foods or cut them out of your diet altogether.

In addition, including unprocessed foods like fatty fish, lean meats, vegetables, and nuts has been shown to significantly reduce triglyceride levels.

9. Provides variety


Eating the same foods over and over can get old. It's healthier to include diverse foods in your diet.

Hundreds of different real food options exist, including a wide variety of meat, fish, dairy, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and seeds.

Make a point of regularly trying new foods. Some unique options include chayote squash, chia seeds, organ meats, kefir, and quinoa.

10. High in healthy fats


Unlike the trans and processed fats found in vegetable oils and spreads, most naturally occurring fats are healthy.

For example, extra virgin olive oil is a great source of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that promotes heart health.

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, which may increase fat burning and assist with weight loss.

What’s more, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids help fight inflammation and protect heart health. Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring and sardines, are excellent sources.

Other real foods that are high in healthy fats include avocados, nuts, seeds, and whole-milk dairy.

11. May reduce disease risk


Making real food part of your lifestyle may help reduce your risk of disease.

Eating patterns — like the Mediterranean diet — based on whole, unprocessed foods have been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

In addition, several large observational studies link a balanced diet heavy in fruits and vegetables to a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease.

12. Contains antioxidants


Antioxidants are compounds that help fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your body's cells.

They are found in all real foods, especially plant foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and legumes. Fresh, unprocessed animal foods also contain antioxidants — though in much lower levels.

For instance, egg yolks offer lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

13. Good for your gut


Eating real food may be beneficial for your gut microbiome, which refers to the bacteria that live in your digestive tract.

Indeed, many real foods function as prebiotics — food that your gut bacteria ferment into short-chain fatty acids. In addition to promoting gut health, these fatty acids may improve blood sugar control.

Real food sources of prebiotics include garlic, asparagus, and cocoa.

14. May help prevent overeating


A high intake of processed and fast foods has been linked to overeating, particularly in those who are overweight.

By contrast, real food doesn't harbor the sugars and flavorings that load down processed foods and may drive overeating.

15. Promotes dental health


Healthy teeth may be another benefit of real foods.

The sugar and refined carbs in the Western diet promote dental decay by feeding the plaque-causing bacteria that live in your mouth. The combination of sugar and acid in soda is especially likely to cause decay.

Cheese seems to help prevent cavities by increasing pH and hardening tooth enamel. One study found that eating cheese dramatically improved enamel strength in people with limited saliva production.

Green tea has also been shown to protect tooth enamel. One study found rinsing with green tea significantly reduced the amount of erosion that occurred when people drank soda and brushed their teeth vigorously.


16. May help reduce sugar cravings


A diet based on real food may also help reduce cravings for sweets like cakes, cookies, and candy.

Once your body adjusts to eating whole, unprocessed foods, cravings for sugary foods could become infrequent and even disappear altogether. Your taste buds eventually adapt to appreciate real food.

17. Sets a good example


In addition to improving your own health and well-being, eating real food can help the people you care about stay healthy.

Leading by example can encourage your friends and family to adopt better eating habits. It's also a good way to help your kids learn about good nutrition.

18. Gets the focus off dieting


A dieting mentality may be harmful because it limits your focus to your weight.

In fact, good nutrition is about much more than losing weight. It’s also about having enough energy and feeling healthy.

Focusing on real food instead of dieting can be a much more sustainable and enjoyable way to live. Instead of forcing weight loss, let weight loss come as a natural side effect of a better diet and improved metabolic health.

19. Helps support local farmers


Purchasing produce, meat, and dairy from farmer's markets support the people who grow food in your community.

In addition, local farms often provide much fresher and less processed food than supermarkets.

20. Delicious


On top of everything else, real food tastes delicious.

The amazing flavor of fresh, unprocessed food is undeniable.

Once your taste buds have adjusted to real food, processed junk food simply can't compare.

Bottom Line


Starting your journey towards a healthy lifestyle begins in your kitchen. Cook more at home – using whole vegetables, grain, and legumes. Substitute whole fruits for juices. Drink water instead of soda. These are just some things to get you started. However, such statements are often easier said than done; as reality being us addicted to take-out for its taste, convenience and affordability. A step-by-step process is required to set up new habits that are attainable while being palatable, convenient and affordable.

Reference/healthline
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